^ This is what I thought I’d see in Singapore.
I was expecting to be immediately dumbfounded by modern technologies from the cutting edge of development. What I wasn’t expecting to see was how this place, Singapore, was rooted in ancient tradition.
A walk through Singapore is an assault on the senses. The hawker stands and plazas are exotic. The climate? Scorching tropical. The food? Pretty bowls of spicy, sultry goodness, flavors you didn’t even know existed. The high rises? Full of flats with tenants that are [from what I imagine due to their rent value] untouchably, stupid rich . . . like walking their orangutans from the window of their armored AMG G65 . . . rich. In Singapore I appreciated the fact that I could observe that lifestyle while sipping my $3 Hokkien Prawn Mee. $3? Yeah, my lifestyle.
But with food this good—those Singaporean locals, plus the middle class joes, working class people from cultures across the globe brought in by the economic boom [who also add to the food flare scene], and grungy backpackers like me—everyone could mix here at a local food court. You could get anything here.
Leaving the airport, I saw glimpses of those extravagancies that I expected to see. The Kinetic Rain left me standing, baffled. I skipped the butterfly exhibit only because I had seen it on Crazy Rich Asians. What really memorized me was A Million Times at Changi, a huge clock that presents itself as functional and artistic—typically Singaporean . . . But to me? Magic. Hell, just walking through the airport feels like a first class Hawaiian resort. Looking back over my trip, that’s what these forward thinking people seemed to value: Is it functional? Beautiful? Throw in a splash of spicy stews that only the heat of the island can make you crave and it hurts so good.
There are lessons to be learned, if modeling after the success of Singapore. Progress is inevitable, why not make it as beautiful as possible? And hold onto what roots a society, the foundations it was based on. Hold on folks, as we watch Singapore continue to progress while holding onto their important traditions. But holding onto the old isn’t the typical death-grip-for-life-or-we’ll-lose-it cultural ideology. Showcasing the old as what makes a neo mega city special . . . different . . . an idea that is truly leaps and bounds ahead. And isn’t that really the most innovative thinking, after all? Not replacing ancient sights, but embracing them?
Singaporean culture puts their traditions at the forefront. It’s evident when even, me, a foreigner takes a stroll down the street. It’s time to let Singapore bewilder you.